Leaving Money on the Table With Kevin Lundberg

Last week, it was reported that the legislative oversight committee of the state’s new Health Exchange Board, created by this year’s health care exchange legislation Senate Bill 200 to implement a key state component of federal health care reform passed in 2010, missed an important deadline to apply for $22 million in federal startup grant funds. AP reported:

Colorado will miss a [Sept. 30th] deadline to apply for $22 million in federal funds to set up an insurance marketplace because Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on how to apply for the money.

The Colorado Health Exchange is a virtual health insurance marketplace approved by lawmakers last term. Some Republicans opposed the idea because insurance exchanges are required under the new health care law, which some Republicans believe will be overturned…

There was no legitimate reason for the five Republicans on the ten-member legislative oversight committee to pitch a fit over this $22 million grant, except to take another gratuitous opportunity to lodge their larger objections to “ObamaCare” in the record. The Denver paper responded forcefully in an editorial last week, accusing Republicans in unusually strong language of “politicking,” and calling their objections “a waste of time and resources.”

This did not sit well with Sen. Kevin Lundberg of the oversight committee. Responding to the Denver paper’s editorial Thursday, Lundberg insists that the objections to applying for these funds were not “politicking” at all, saying five days from the application’s approval by the Health Exchange Board was not enough time to read a 71-page document (seriously?). There is another deadline at the end of December they can meet to apply, but Lundberg mentions the possibility of private funds being solicited to pay for Colorado’s exchange instead.

And that’s where this gets sticky–private funds, possibly the express goal of Republicans if this obstruction of federal grant money persists, wouldn’t have the same “strings” attached as federal grant money. We can’t tell you exactly what those “strings” are, but neither does Lundberg. He’s content to leave that vague and scary, because, well, this is all a bunch of “politicking.” Don’t take our word for it, see the press release the GOP sent out on the impasse:

“This over-reaching proposal is a precise example of why House Republicans fought so hard for legislative oversight of Colorado’s Health Benefit Exchange,” said state Rep. Jim Kerr, R-Littleton. “This current application would push Colorado into a one-size-fits-all mandate from Washington. Colorado needs Colorado-specific solutions to meet our Colorado-specific needs. That’s why we created a health benefit exchange to fit the unique needs of Colorado and to protect Coloradans from an out-of-control Washington, D.C. bureaucracy.”

Very odd considering the Health Exchange Board wrote the application for federal funds. Whether Jim Kerr and Kevin Lundberg like it or not, SB-200 was passed to create the Board whose job it is to apply for this federal grant money. “Strings” and all. Obviously, the Exchange Board doesn’t see an inconsistency with “Colorado-specific needs” here. On the other hand, if the state were to pursue private donations for the exchange, what’s to stop Kerr and Lundberg from abandoning the federal guidelines completely–and demanding some nutty thinktank plan that the federal government could well take over as inadequate under the law in 2014?

Oh, right. “ObamaCare” will be repealed by then! But remember, folks, it’s not about politics! We get the feeling that, much like Rep. Amy Stephens’ descent into nonsensical intransigence over this same legislation, the powerful bipartisan interests who supported the plan from the beginning will pull the reins on Lundberg’s nonsense before the end of December.

After that, somebody can explain the wisdom of making Lundberg the spokesman for anything.

13 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. DavidThi808 says:

    saying five days from the application’s approval by the Health Exchange Board was not enough time to read a 71-page document

    Even if he needs a dictionary for the big words, this should take 2 hours max. However, if he’s dyslexic then something this long could be daunting.

  2. Meiner49er says:

    No, but innumerate, certainly.  I know I can never COUNT on him to do anything for the people of this district!

  3. ScottP says:

    If the strings are so bad, then what are they?

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